Buveur D’Air has already written his name in the National Hunt Racing history books courtesy of his two wins in the Champion Hurdle. However, having contributed two of trainer Nicky Henderson’s seven Champion Hurdle wins, it will be interesting to see if he can emulate Henderson’s See You Then by completing a Champion Hurdle hat-trick. If doing so, he would also become the second horse owned by JP McManus to win three Champion Hurdles, after Istabraq (1998 – 2000).
Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Jockeys: Barry Geraghty, Aidan Coleman, Noel Fehily
Owners: JP McManus
Breeder: Gerard Ferte
Buveur D’Air made his racecourse debut in February 2015 in a two-mile bumper at Newbury. He was sent-off third favourite that day behind stablemate Altior but, despite beating Altior, he only finished second behind Barters Hill, despite getting 10lb from the winner.
He then ran in Aintree’s Champion Bumper in April where, having been sent-off as fourth favourite, he finished fourth, with the winner once more being Barters Hill.
November 2015 was the next time Buveur D’Air saw a racecourse, when he returned to Newbury for his hurdling debut. He was second favourite behind the Phillip Hobbs trained Wait For Me but, helped by some slick jumping, he beat the favourite by 11-lengths.
His second appearance over hurdles was no more than an exercise canter, as he gave weight and a seven-lengths beating to inferior horses at Huntingdon after going off at prohibitive odds of 2/11.
He was perhaps a little inexperienced when he turned up for his third start over hurdles in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, and drifted in the market before the race as the money poured in for the Irish favourite Min and Buveur D’Air’s stablemate Altior. He ran creditably in third behind Altior and Min, in what is considered to be one of the best renewals of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for many a year.
Buveur D’Air then got back in the winners’ enclosure at Aintree, when he accounted for two more high-class prospects in Petit Mouchoir and Limini.
Before Buveur D’Air’s third seasonal appearance, there was much debate about what Nicky Henderson was going to do with both Buveur D’Air and Altior, but Henderson decided that both would go chasing, Buveur D’Air made his chasing debut at Haydock, where he beat the useful yardstick Cloudy Dream. He then went to Warwick for his next start, where he easily landed odds-on as beat the useful Gino Trail.
Buveur D’Air had done nothing wrong over fences at this point but, with stablemate Altior looking future Champion Chase material, and the Champion Hurdle being short of obvious top-class contenders, Henderson took the bold move to send Buveur D’Air back over hurdles in the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown. He went off at odds of 1/4 and produced a display of brilliant hurdling as he cruised to an effortless success.
It was all roads to the 2017 Champion Hurdle after that, though he was only sent-off second-favourite behind one of his owner’s other runners Yanworth. With Barry Geraghty injured, Noel Fehily came in for the ride on Buveur D’Air, winning by 4½ lengths from stablemate My Tent Or Yours.
Buveur D’Air then stepped up in trip at Aintree to 2½ miles, but showed that was no problem as he again accounted for My Tent Or Yours by five-lengths in the Aintree Hurdle.
By the time the 2017/18 National Hunt season was due to get underway, obvious pretenders to the Champion Hurdle Crown where thin on the ground, so it was hardly surprising the connections of Buveur D’Air decided to keep him over the smaller obstacles.
He made his seasonal debut in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, as connections mapped out a program that would take in the Hurdling Triple Crown. He duly obliged at odds of 1/6.
He was then just 2/11 to win the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, and he again obliged as he beat decent yardstick The New One comfortably under an amazingly confident ride by Geraghty.
Connections would then have probably preferred a more rigorous workout before the defence of his Cheltenham crown, but had to settle for back-to-back wins in Sandown’s Contenders Hurdle at odds of 1/16.
That set up an intriguing clash with Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle, though the pre-race markets suggested Faugheen was not back to his best. Instead, the main threat to Buveur D’Air emerged from Faugheen’s stablemate Melon, who got within a neck of Buveur D’Air at the line.
Buveur D’Air then sidestepped the Aintree and Punchestown Festivals.
There’s no doubt Buveur D’Air will be aimed at a third Champion Hurdle in 2019, with trips to Newcastle, Kempton, and Sandown probably on his agenda once again, especially as English Champion Hurdle Challengers again seem thin on the ground. However, he could face some serious Irish Challengers, with Samcro and Laurina possibly having the Champion Hurdle as their main target, whilst Melon is also likely to have another go at Buveur D’Air come March.